When younger, it puzzled me that I could never join the public grieving for kings, queens, presidents, popes, prime ministers, movie stars, sporting legends and business tycoons, all of whom shuffled off stage-left amid copious wailing, unctuous praise and false humility. I assumed I was somehow defective in not feeling sad or crying (though I did shed a tear for Spike Milligan and Bobby Rose).
I now realise that this public grieving is part of the delusion plaguing modern societies as they lurch along the scientifically measured path constructed by our materialistic leaders.
Of course, I have felt true grief and sorrow for family and people I knew in some way, and perhaps most intensely for all my dogs I buried in the back yard (don’t worry, they were dead).
The account of Merridy’s guinea pig dying in her arms touched me more than the deaths of Princess Di or Kerry Packer. Along with other emotions such as love, anger, empathy, altruism, appreciation of beauty, music, art, humour and all the truly essential things that make us human, grief is much more real and unmeasurable than the sterile universe our scientists want us to believe in.
If the public grieving was more in line with John Donne’s “No man is an island/ask not for whom the bell tolls/it tolls for thee”, which is a recognition of our inter-connectedness, I might join in, but the present-day pomp, hypocrisy and PR all leave me cold.
All of life is change